If you’ve never heard of the word Anmeldung, you will soon enough. Along with danke and bitte, it’s likely to be one of the first words that enter your German vocabulary. It translates to registration, and the reason for its importance is that it’s the precursor to doing everything and anything when it comes to living in Berlin.

From the time you move into an apartment, you’ll have 14 days to register your address at the Bürgeramt. It’s this process that is called Anmeldung. Once you’ve completed it, you’ll receive your Meldebescheinigung, or registration certificate. You’ll want to hold on to this document. Without it, you’ll be unable to sign up for health insurance, take out an internet contract, get a gym membership, sign a long-term rental or participate in any other bureaucratic process that requires a registered address. Sound intimidating? Don’t worry – below we’ll take a look in detail at everything you need to successfully and painlessly complete your Anmeldung.

What do I need for my Anmeldung?

The acquiring of an Anmeldung is subject to a strange paradox. In order to get your Anmeldung, you need a place to live. However, in order to get an apartment contract, you need your Anmeldung. It’s frustrating, to say the least, but there is a solution.

Your Anmeldung is likely to be your first brush with German bureaucracy, and that can be an intimidating experience. Even more so given the fact that the entire form-filling process takes place entirely in German. While you might get lucky and deal with an English speaker, the chances are that it will be Deutsch the entire way through. In this case, it helps to travel to the Bürgeramt with a German-speaking friend, or send a German speaker to conduct your Anmeldung on your behalf. If you choose the latter option, you’ll need a signed letter of consent called a Vollmacht. On top of that, or if you choose to do the Anmeldung yourself, you’ll also need the following documents:

  • A valid passport or ID
  • The rental agreement or contract from your landlord called a Wohnungsgeberbestätigung.
  • If you’re subletting or staying at a friend’s place, you’ll need a signed letter from them stating that you are staying with them in the meantime. This letter doesn’t have to be intricate, just a simple, written confirmation of your stay.

An Anmeldung Form, a form in German which you can find at any Bürgeramt, or which you can download here.

Once you’ve gathered and filled in all of these documents, you’ll want to locate your nearest Bürgeramt. Head down there, take a number and wait to be seated. It might take a little while, but rest assured that the Anmeldung process itself only takes a few minutes, after which you won’t have to do it again unless you move addresses. If you’re not keen on waiting, however, you can also book in advance.

How to get an appointment at the Bürgeramt

Getting an appointment at the Bürgeramt is a pretty straightforward process. Simply follow this link and scroll down the page until you find your kiez. Find the Bürgeramt you wish to visit, click on termin machen, and you’ll be taken to a calendar with a list of available appointment times. The problem is that these dates are often booked weeks or even months in advance, so you might not be able to get an appointment within the two-week registration window.

If you’re not crazy about waiting for hours to get your Anmeldung processed, check the appointments for your nearest Bürgeramt from about 8 am, and keep refreshing the page every couple of minutes. People cancel appointments all the time and there’s a chance that you’ll be able to take their place. You don’t necessarily have to register at your nearest Bürgeramt, either. If you’re willing to travel further, you’re able to do your Anmeldung at any Bürgeramt in the city.

What if I change my address?

In the event that you change addresses in Berlin, you’ll have to do your Anmeldung all over again. Because the Anmeldung is the registration of your address, every time you move you’ll have to let the city know where you’ve relocated to. The process doesn’t change at all; you’ll still have to book an appointment or wait at the Bürgeramt. The only thing that will change is the address on your Meldebescheinigung.

What if I leave the country?

If for whatever reason you have to leave Germany and move to another country, you’ll have to deregister your address. This process is called the Abmeldung. It’s quite important that you go through with this process, otherwise, you might still end up paying German tax and even health insurance even though you no longer live there. The abmeldung also allows you to cancel most long-term contracts before they’re due to end.

When it comes to performing to Abmeldung, the process is identical to the Anmeldung. Either book an appointment at the Bürgeramt online or show up on the day and wait to be seen. The only difference is that you will fill out an Abmeldung Form as opposed to an Anmeldung Form.

If you don’t have time to make a personal trip to the Bürgeramt before your departure, you can also deregister by registered mail. Simply download the form by following this link, include a copy of your passport, head to your nearest post office and ask them to post the documents per Einschreiben (by registered mail) to the Bürgeramt, which is required for legal documents.

Photo by Flo Karr on Unsplash